Home > Blackwing Beast (Kane's Mountains #3)(13)

Blackwing Beast (Kane's Mountains #3)(13)
Author: T.S. Joyce

“You’re laughing at me,” he ground out as he led her down the porch stairs and toward the gravel road.

When Beast put a good ten feet between them, her smile deepened. “I’m not laughing at you. You remind me of me.”

He cast her a confused frown. “You said you needed to talk to me.”

Kiera nodded and stooped, picked up a stick from the middle of the road. “I wanted to apologize for making assumptions. I don’t know your story. I listened to rumors, but rumors have hurt me before, too.”


Kiera dragged the end of the long, craggy stick along the gravel, creating a line as she walked. She was avoiding the hell out of his gaze because the lion looked at her as if he could see through her. It was unsettling, and especially now when she was going to give him something big. “My mom was rogue. I wasn’t raised in a pride. The local pride made up whatever stories they wanted about how we lived. And when she died, those rumors made sure I wasn’t taken in by them. My mom had a friend in there, a low-ranking female named Tammy. She’d wanted to adopt me as her own, but the alpha male and the other females wouldn’t allow it. They thought I would taint the pride, taint the bloodlines. They thought I was from stock that couldn’t function in a pride. I had a social worker. I called her Mrs. Lindsey, who was really nice, and she tried really hard to get the pride to take me in, but all those rumors about my mom and me stomped out that opportunity.”

“And then you ended up in Apex.”

Kiera’s attention snapped to him.

He was walking with his hands still clenched behind his back, but only eight feet separated them now.

“I don’t want to talk about that part,” she said softly.

“You don’t have to. I already know all about it.”

Kiera put a couple extra feet in between them for that. It felt like a betrayal. “You checked up on me.”

“Kane has your files. I read them. I didn’t want to, but I thought if you were pitiful, I would think about you less.”

She huffed a shocked breath. “And?”

“I think about you more.” When a long snarl rattled his throat, Beast shook his head hard.

“Apex wasn’t my choice, but it was the law at the time. Shifters that belonged to the state were given to Apex before they were allowed to be adopted by humans. And I’m not pitiful, Beast. I went through something hard, but I’m still here. Do you see tears in my eyes while I talk to you about this? Those stopped a long time ago.”

“You cried when you saw Kane.”

Anger pounded through her that he dared to point out her weakness. “I hated Kane, and I missed him terribly. Then I hated him, missed him, on and on and on. That was a hard moment you saw. I said I wasn’t pitiful, not emotionless. I had a decent life after Apex. Did Kane’s file have that? I got adopted three months after my lioness was taken, and by humans who were kind and who understood that I was going through hell. That I was missing a vital piece of me, a vital connection to my mom. They were always tender.”

“I was raised by a gorilla shifter,” he blurted out. A long hiss sounded from him, and he took a long steadying inhale that stopped it. “Sorry. I’m not good at talking, and you smell angry now, or…disappointed?”

He’d shocked her so hard she’d dropped her stick. “Are you part gorilla?” That would explain his size and his ability to hold a pride for so long.

“No. My parents were both lions. Good at being lions, shit at being parents. But I got lucky. Got taken in by an old silverback who didn’t have a family.”

“What was his name?”

Beast’s mouth curved up in a breathtaking smile, and his eyes softened as he chuckled. “Beast.”

“Beast? Did he name you after him?”

Another deep, sexy laugh. “His real name is Callum Dalton, but he’d spent some of his youth in a facility where they studied the breeding of shifters and humans. He was…hurt there. It’s why I get angry at Apex for you. For Kane. Callum had scars on his insides that never got better until I was almost old enough to take a pride. He wanted me to fit in with my people. He didn’t have that with the gorillas, so he trained me to think like a lion, but brawl like a silverback. I had a darkness inside of me, always wanted to fight, couldn’t control the animal unless I had a steady flow of good battles. He saw that, saw it would be hard for me to transition into pride life, and when I turned eighteen, he cut me loose. Put me on a small pride, two females, the male was older and had more fighting experience, but Callum didn’t think I should wait until I was older. He said the darkness would get bigger without lionesses under me to keep me steady. He said that’s what happened to him. He was silverback of a family group when he was taken into the facility, and after he was broken, he couldn’t fit back in. He couldn’t breed the females without flashbacks of what they did to him in that place, so he stayed alone, and he got worse. He didn’t want that for me. He wanted me to be okay, but at eighteen, I was a hellion.” Beast smiled and let off this tiny laughing sound. Now only six feet separated them. He flashed her a wicked grin. “It was good I was raised by a giant silverback who could keep me in line. The lions would’ve stood no chance. Before my first fight for females, Callum said he felt good about the man I turned into, and he felt better on the inside because of it. He said, ‘You’ll be Beast now. Someday you won’t need the name anymore, and you’ll call me and give it back.’ I never knew what he meant by that, but I think about it a lot. I will always be Beast. My given name is unfamiliar to me. Callum found a female gorilla shifter a couple years ago. A mate. It’s not supposed to work like that for the silverbacks, a single mate, but for some it does. For Callum it did. Soren didn’t fit anywhere either, and now they’re happy. She doesn’t call him Beast. She calls him Callum.”

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